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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 19, Number 5, March 2007

Teachers speak out

Teachers are the most credible source of information about public schools. This information is consistently confirmed in national and provincial polling. In the latest provincial polling conducted in November 2006, the proportion of British Columbians rating classroom teachers "very reliable" was twice that of any other group.

Support for the teacher strike in October 2005 was sustained because teachers’ voices were credible and the government was not.

The government was forced to concede that conditions in our schools were not what they had been claiming, which led to the introduction of legislation it claimed would solve the problems of class size and class composition. The legislation did not even pretend to deal with the services of specialist teachers such as teacher-librarians, ESL teachers, learning assistance, counsellors, and special education teachers.

On February 5, 2007, the government finally released the data on class size that it had collected in October 2006. The data shows that there are 9,555 classes with four or more identified students with special needs (IEPs). There are 3,050 Grade 8–12 classes with 31 or more students. However, in Grades 4–7 where teacher consent is required, there are only 85 classes with 31 or more.

The Bill 33 legislation had a review built in and we assume the government will be reviewing the legislation this year.

The BCTF is encouraging teachers to speak out about conditions in their classrooms and schools this year. Do your students have the support they need and deserve? Is your library available to students and properly staffed and stocked? Do your students have access to support services?

Please take any opportunity available to let parents and members of the public know about what is happening in our schools. You have the knowledge and the credibility and the public wants to hear from you.

— Peter Owens

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